Latgalians most ready to defend Latvia

In contrast to international newspapers and agencies that question whether the eastern Latgale region, which borders Russia, is a breeding ground for pro-Kremlin radicals, Latgalians themselves are actually the most ready to defend the state and are very critical of ideas on Latgale’s autonomy. 

That is according to research by Latvia's Defense Center (Latvian), based on a survey by the SKDS pollster, reported Latvian Television Tuesday.

A total of 78% of people who speak Latgalian–a dialect of Latvian–at home said they'd support Latvia in case of a Russian attack.

The same answer was given by 37% of respondents of all ethnicities in Latgale, which has a sizable Russian-speaking population.

Even that is a mere 3% down from a similar 2015 survey by SKDS, which suggested 40% of Latvians are ready to take up arms to defend Latvia.

People in Latgale are critical of the 'Latgale People’s Republic' initiative by pro-Russia radicals (also very unwelcome in Latgale, according to the survey).

A total of 71% of respondents in Latgale either think the idea of declaring Donetsk-style autonomy is bad or haven't heard of it. Of these, 42% think the idea is "very bad", 12% think it's "mostly bad", while 17% haven't heard of it at all.

Only 3% think the initiative is "mostly good" and 7% think it's "very good". 

While among Latgalian speakers a whopping 83% are either critical of the initiative or haven't heard of it.

"Looking at the data, one can conclude that the infamous BBC film "World War Three: Inside The War Room" is based on fantasy not fact. This movie depicts an uprising in Daugavpils, organized by people who wanted to establish a 'Latgale People’s Republic' similar to the Eastern Ukrainian 'People's Republics' of Donetsk and Luhansk. According to the survey, support for such an idea is minimal in Latgale.

Most Latgalians, especially Latgalian speakers, are starkly opposed to the idea of a  'Latgale People’s Republic'," said Mārtiņš Hiršs, one of the authors of the research paper.

The survey was carried out by SKDS pollster from January to February 2016, featuring a total of 650 respondents. 

Here's what locals of Latgale had to say about the matter when LSM visited in 2014.

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